Always the Friend, Never the Bridesmaid

Sharon-Adrianna Gordin

It has happened. Once again, a friend is getting married. Of course, I'm excited for her even though there is not a single prospect in my life (kissing some guy at a bar this past Saturday night doesn't qualify). The bride-to-be and I have been friends for a long time, so of course I want to hear all the details: how he proposed, where they're planning to register, what kind of gown she's going to wear, and of course, I can't wait to find out who the other bridesmaids will be -besides me, of course. Since we've been friends for so long, at one point or another we discussed making each other bridesmaids once Mr. Somehow-Better-than-the-Others proposed.

Time passed. Invitations to the engagement party went out. I was beginning to wonder what the wait was for. I considered asking, "How many bridesmaids are you having?" or intimating, "Wow, it's really going to be hard to narrow down who you want in the bridal party." I didn't have the nerve to be direct about it. I thought it was more tactful to let her infer that I was planning to be asked.

Then the bomb hit. She told me that she was having six bridesmaids and that they were all college friends. A different friend explained not asking me with the uneven ratio thing: six bridesmaids to four ushers forced her to narrow it down to relatives. A college friend decided to have seven bridesmaids - six sorority sisters and her real little sister as maid of honor. My cousin, bubbling with excitement about her wedding plans, told me that she was planning to have ten bridesmaids. Ten bridesmaids? And one was the groom's cousin! Yet she offered no reason for not including me.

Hey, wait a minute. What are these excuses? Why not include me? How have I managed to wind up on the periphery of these women's lives? Maybe the first three had plausible excuses, but my cousin didn't even offer one, and she's a relative! These are people I have always thought of as special, almost like sisters. Do they not feel the same way about me? Does this mean that I've been bumped?

I try to think of explanations, like, for the last few years, maybe I've been more interested in moving my career ahead than paying much heed to their lives. Maybe they think that because I'm single, I must be anti-marriage, or at least not ready for it, and that I might cast a cloud of concupiscence over their ceremony. It could be that they think that because I've been in financial hell for the past three years, I can't very well afford the shower, the gown, and the bachelorette party, along with all the other things I need to afford. But I have to face the fact that the truth may be that they do not think that we are as close as I do.

When I tell my other friends that it hurts to be overlooked, some tell me to express myself to my soon-to-be-married friends. Others say to keep my mouth shut. A few suggest that I'm just too sentimental. Once at the wedding, I see who beat me out the coveted role of bridesmaid. Sometimes I am surprised that my newly married friend would prefer a certain person to me, especially when it's someone I don't much like. But at some point, it becomes insignificant. At all these weddings, I get to catch up with people that I haven't seen in years, and we have more fun that if I had actually been in the wedding. We even make fun of some of the bridesmaids for whom we hold mutual contempt. Plus, a guest can get drunk with a certain amount of anonymity. And chances are that no one else is wearing the same dress you are. Most important, I realize that it's not about the bridesmaids; rather, it's about the newlywed couple.

As I say goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Married, I ponder the gamut of emotions. I started out feeling hurt, but by the time the whole shindig was over, I was okay. Perhaps I was even better than just okay. I began to think that eventually, someone would ask me to marry him, and then I'd have all the details to plan, bridesmaids to pick - wait! I get to pick bridesmaids someday? Hmm . . . the possibilities. . . the sweet revenge. . . the ugly bridesmaid dresses I could make them wear. Well, maybe I'll behave. Maybe. Or maybe I'll just skip the ceremony and get married in Tahiti.

Sometimes it still hurts not to be asked. I finally mustered the courage to confront an old friend, and she told me that she could only include so many people. Another friend apologetically explained that she would have asked me, but she knew that since I hadn't been working at the time, and, well, you get the picture.

But seriously, I realized, it's just a few hours of one day out of your life. Get on the dance floor; eat until you bust a seam, I tell myself. Or don't go if it upsets you that much - send a gift instead. What really matters is how you and your friends continue to enrich each other's lives. After all, you both had lives before the big day, and you'll continue to have one as friends long after.

© Sharon-Adrianna Gordin

Sharon-Adrianna Gordin has written for various publications, including Girls Life, Mode, Grace Woman, and What magazine. She is a regular contributor to New York City's oldest weekly, The Villager, and its sister publication, Gay City News. Ms. Gordin predominantly writes about music, entertainment, and health. She used to write a column about dating called "The Serial Kisser", but now serially kisses one man. She lives in Manhattan.

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